Do you Remember WENN? Oh, I so Remember WENN. In the pre-TCM days when American Movie Classics was still American Movie Classics, Remember WENN was the refreshingly original bit of programming that consistently hit the “Ahhh, that’s nice” spot.
The show was a complete anomaly from day one. Premiering in 1996, the same year that American TV sets were faithfully tuned in to ER, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and Law & Order (the latter of which people still do), a show like Remember WENN was an oddity. Writer Rupert Holmes had crafted a period dramedy set at a Pittsburgh radio station during WWII with no modern considerations: No laugh track. No big names. No established audience.
The show‘s executive producer, David Metzler, had this to say in a 1997 interview: “When we first sold AMC on the idea, we promised them something that would be completely consistent with their programming, that would have the feel and look of a 40s movie. The aim was to create a show where viewers couldn’t immediately tell, either through the writing or visual style, whether this was new programming or a classic films.”
The show was a big gamble for AMC, but the station’s faithful viewers–and we were reverently faithful during that period–tuned in loyally each week. In those days, the Internet was a relatively new and somewhat exclusive phenomena, hardly the global village it is today, and therefore AMC did not benefit from the close-knit community that its modern day counterpart, Turner Classic Movies, enjoys today. We were there, we simply had no means of connectivity. Perhaps if Remember WENN had been borne under more liberal architecture, it’s lifespan would have lasted.
“Originally,” said Metzler, “we were going to end the show before Peal Harbor. Then we were going to end with Pearl Harbor. … Frankly I could see us doing this show during the early days of television.”
It was not to be. The show was canceled at the end of it’s fourth season– not coincidentally in 1998, the same year that AMC came under new management… and things were never quite the same again.